Robots at the street fair

book festival, or something?
Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.

I’m not sure if I just had fun or was bored out of my mind. The sky was blue, the plaza clean and bright, the little kids were running around having fun. Moomin did a hula hoop ring toss, face painting, a bean bag toss, listened to the librarians read stories and play the guitar, ate ice cream and lollipops, and, mostly, lounged by the fountain, sticking his hand in the water to watch the falling sheet separate into strands. I blew bubbles. People knew who I was, which I always find pleasant. The carnival atmosphere wasn’t quite successful, but there’s something attractive about that as well, a particular dorky sweetness.

It is good at such moments when one has detached oneself from work and computer and errands and housework, to cultivate a Zen-monk-ish detachment from the stream of life. Huzzah! Sun! Flowers! Concrete! Living in the moment! Holding hands! (Right?) I think Moomin often makes the same valiant attempt. He knows I sort of expect him to be having kid-like fun. But then it isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be (except for the bounce houses) and he’s wistfully thinking of his cave-like bunk bed filled with stacks of comic books.

We had a funny moment as we walked home. Moomin was so completely spaced out and in his own world that I just had to do an experiment. He was walking on the wall on the way down to the Jefferson Street Underpass. At the point where the wall ended, I sat down on it. Still lost in thought, he sat down next to me. We sat there silently for a few minutes. He didn’t notice anything was odd. It was cool and pleasant under the Caltrain tracks, out of the sun. I blew some bubbles, and we watched them drift across the busy road. “They might see them from the train,” Moomin remarked, fascinated. We appreciated the underpass for a while longer. My feet hurt. This was a moment nicer than all the street fair, even nicer than when I lost my shit laughing at the awesome swing dancers who were letting it all hang out.

The rest of the way home we acted silly. Moomin has learned and/or inherited the family ability to move seamlessly in and out of pretending, just as me and Minnie and my parents used to all suddenly start acting like we were in Robin Hood or Star Wars or Morte D’Arthur.

“I – AM – A – MOMBOT – ” I droned nasally, out of the blue.

“I – AM – YOUR – KID – BOT” Moomin responded in perfect accord with the unwritten rules of robot-pretending. He did a great funky robot walk.

“IN – SERT- MANIPULATOR – DIGITS – MAGNETICALLY – IN – TO – METALLIC – CLAW” I said, sticking out a hand. He went “SHOOOMP” and thunked his hand into mine, all magnet-like. I just about died, it was so perfectly done.

“SON – BOT – TIRED – NEED – FUEL” he robotted.


We dissolved into giggles as this teenage dude in a hoodie (WTF it was 90 degrees out!) rolled an eyeball in our direction and sped up to get the hell away from us crazy weirdos!

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